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A Closer Look at the Proposed Oklahoma River Pedestrian Bridge

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A few years ago, back when much of the RiverSport Adventures attractions and the boathouse district were still only a dream, longtime promoter Pat Downes shared yet another ambition with me - conversion of an abandoned railroad bridge that crosses the Oklahoma River between Western and Agnew Avenues.

The timing wasn't quite right yet. But as one takes in all that is taking place along the river, remember this wasn't a spur of the moment step forward. We are enjoying dreams from years if not decades ago. Downes, who suffered a stroke last year (and is recovering nicely), retired last fall. 

A lot has changed since I first heard about this bridge and how it can be turned into something special.

As reported in The Oklahoman today, the bridge is in a key spot to link up emerging areas along the river, including Farmers Market and Wheeler. I reported earlier this week that construction is set to start in 60 days on the streets and infrastructure at Wheeler, with the building of 73 homes to follow in early 2018.

Farmers Market, meanwhile, is continuing to progress with the opening of restaurants and soon, a retro arcade bar. The trails system is coming together throughout the city thanks to MAPS 3. And that trails system includes connections to both ends of the bridge.

The folks at ADG put together a pretty convincing presentation (thanks to the folks at City Hall for the easy access they provide to these materials - I got this story from www.okc.gov) that will be delivered Wednesday to the Riverfront Redevelopment Authority. 

So yeah, this bridge is in a pretty ideal location - it connects multiple city parks and is part of a proposed scenic abandoned rail corridor.

Notice the boxes shown attached to the bridge? This is another fascinating part of the ADG proposal in that it shows how the span could include seating areas where pedestrians and bicyclists can stop, enjoy a view of the river and the nearby Wheeler Ferris Wheel.

This is just a proposal. Funding will be needed and ADG is suggesting it be included in the upcoming bond issue. At first glance, it looks like a fantastic way to create a key connection for not just south and north Oklahoma City but our growing trail system.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›

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